Realtor Fox & Carney collapses after fraud, clients in a lurch as owners “skip the country”

Realtor Fox & Carney collapses after fraud, clients in a lurch as owners “skip the country”

By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, July 7 (The Source) – One of Zimbabwe’s oldest real estate agents Fox & Carney, which is under liquidation, lost $300,000 to employee fraud while its shareholders have since fled the country, leaving its clients in a lurch, the High Court heard on Wednesday.

Fox & Carney – a family-run business founded in the 1960s – was last year suspended from trading by the Estate Agents Council (EAC) over allegations of malpractice.

The High Court placed the company under liquidation on July 30 last year, paving way for the disposal of its assets to pay creditors – mostly property owners whose funds were held in the trust account.

However, the company’s liquidator, Winsley Militala of Petwin Executor and Trust through his representative, Hardwell Jambawo, told creditors that the company’s assets, mainly office furniture and vehicles, had only fetched $7,500 which was not enough to pay creditors who are owed over $300,000.

During the Wednesday meeting, creditors presented claims worth over $100,000.

“In 2012, a fraud was discovered at the company and the alleged perpetrators were employees. The fraud was reported to police. The total prejudice to the trust account was in excess of $300,000,” Jambayo said, adding that this led EAC to order the company to cease operations.

“It is believed that the promoters skipped the country.”

Creditors, angry after being told that they would only receive a total of $7,500, demanded an explanation from the liquidator on the actual value of the company’s assets after $74,000 belonging to landlords was entered as an asset in the company’s books. Others offered to assist with more information that could lead to the recovery of more assets.

The meeting was deferred to a future date to give the liquidator and creditors time to resolve issues around the company’s assets.

Estate agents have not been spared from the country’s economic woes that have seen 4,600 companies closing shop between 2011 and October last year, with nearly 65,000 workers losing their jobs. The property market has remained subdued with the number of unoccupied office and residential properties continuing to rise, putting many estate agents out of business.

  • Tapiwa Mubonderi

    The liquidator should make an application for the courts to pierce the corporate veil as the business or owners should have managed to acquire a property portfolio in the years it has operated. Where those responsible for the fraud convicted? Are they being sued to restitute the company?